Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Normal Life

by Stephanie Black

Wednesday again? Really? Crad (that’s my nine-year-old son’s new faux cuss word). I suppose this means I need to blog again. I told my husband I didn’t know what to blog about. He suggested shoelaces. I’m not sure I can make a go of that, so if any other bloggers want the topic, it’s all yours. Cheers!

So . . . life. I’m woefully behind on girls camp prep, but we’ll get there. I’ve got tons left to do on preparing the mystery/suspense class I’m teaching at the Storymakers conference next week (next week!!!). I hit page 300 on my work-in-progress, and figure I’ve got, oh, maybe forty or fifty pages left to go in this draft, so I’m excited about that. After I finish the first draft, then it’s time to fix it so it makes sense. I hear readers are picky about that. In other news, I rejoined a community symphony after I got a call telling me they really needed second violins. I’d bailed out of the symphony a while back because it was too hard being gone on Tuesdays for rehearsals and then on Wednesdays for Mutual. But I no longer have to attend Mutual, so my week's a bit easier. I’m excited to be playing 2nd violin—I haven’t done that in years and hooray, there aren’t as many scary high parts.

Things are pretty normal with the family, which is to say, they’re nuts. For example, at FHE we sometimes play "fruit basket tipped over." You might be familiar with this game, or a variation on it. Each of you chooses a piece of fruit to be, such as “I’m a strawberry.” This time my five-year-old daughter made the game “everything tipped over,” so you didn’t have to be a piece of fruit—you could be anything. We ended up with:

A slime mold
A lamppost
A giant squid
A rose
A blue whale
The flush valve of a toilet

A psychologist would have a field day with us. But that's par for the course around here. Courtesy of my sixteen-year-old daughter, there’s a drawing of a lemur posted on the fridge with the notation, “Bow to our Dear Lemur and welcome his benevolent rule.” When I tried to wake up my nine-year-old son for scripture reading yesterday, his response was “Big bowl of sauerkraut!”, which will only make sense to Weird Al fans, after which he fell back asleep and missed the whole thing. He could sleep through the battle of Armageddon. I’ve never had this much trouble waking up a young kid before, and I’m living in fear for when he’s a teenager. I’m also living in fear for when he gets a driver’s license, since he’s the kid who used to keep walking full speed ahead while looking backward (yes, he has smacked into a pole before). Of course, at the rate we’re going, he’ll probably be the first kid in the family to get a driver’s license. I have two driving-aged children and nary a license to be found. On the plus side, our insurance is cheaper.

On the way to seminary this morning, my daughter remarked, “Guess what? Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley.” The second half of the dream had been about hermit crabs, so it wasn’t all that exciting, she reported. This is the same kid who dreamed that she was playing basketball with the brothers Karamazov (well, Dmitri was just watching).

And then there was incident when the nine-year-old put his sister’s Easter Peep in the microwave, which was the end of her “Peep friend.” She wasn't happy. Of course, this was the girl who on Easter periodically said she was going to go torture Peeps and would proceed to do so in the vaccum packer canister. It didn’t work very well this year, though. Our vacuum packer must have gone wimpy. The Peep would swell a little, but not much—not like when we did it a few years ago and wooooOOOOOHHH, the Peep would get huge as you sucked the air out of the canister. It was very entertaining, and perhaps the only valid use for Peeps.

My oldest daughter gets home from college in a week and a half. I’ll be picking her up at BYU when I go to the Storymakers conference (bless the organizers for picking that week for the conference! Perfect timing). I can’t believe she’s almost done with her first year of college. While she’s been gone, we’ve done a lot of our communicating via Google chat. This has been a sweet, tender opportunity to bond as mother and adult daughter, in loving conversations like this:

Amy: addicted to cranberry juice, i am
me: weird that is
Amy: i'm serious
i really like it
me: good for your bladder it is
Amy: and my kidneys
me: k

'Til next week, when I plan to wring my hands over the fact that I'm still not ready for my mystery/suspense class.


At 4/14/2010 2:26 PM, Blogger Marta O. Smith said...

I get the sauerkraut reference. My son did a humorous interpretation of Weird Al's "Albuquerque" for his speech class.

So glad you are teaching at Storymakers this year!

At 4/14/2010 2:40 PM, Blogger Lisa said...

Is there any good way to decide what kind of genre your ms fits into? Mine has such a mixture of elements I am loath to pick one.

At 4/14/2010 4:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


These are the best instructions I can give you to help you place your book in the most logical genre. If you don't follow these instructions, your publisher will, so why not beat him or her to the punch and just do it?

Take a dart to the bookstore. Stand in the doorway, scream "everybody on the floor, now!", throw the dart (with your eyes closed). You can figure out the rest on your own.

If the bookstore you choose happens to be a Deseret Book there is a chance your dart will land in the dinner roll section, which means you've likely written a mystery set in the Lion House Pantry. At least that's what it would have been if you used my cooking skills to write your novel.

If your dart happens to land in the doctrinal section, it means you probably didn't pray about your story before you started writing and you should throw it out and start over, after you offer a prayer or three.

And if your dart hits the cashier it means you're going to have a best seller. Major jackpot novel. Ask the cashier what genre the point of your dart feels like.

At 4/14/2010 4:46 PM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

:) Marta, my son would have loved to hear your son's interpretation--he has that song memorized. Can't wait to see you at Storymakers!

LOL, Anon! Break out the darts! Lisa, speaking of bookstores, one way to help determine your genre is to think of where you envision your book being shelved in a bookstore so interested readers can find it. Even if you have a mixture of genre elements, which elements predominate? Or which genre do you want to emphasize in marketing it to agents/publishers? Do you envision it with the romance novels? With the fantasy novels? Suspense?

Genre lines aren't always clear-cut. For instance, Michele Holmes' All the Stars in Heaven has a lot of suspense, but was marketed as a romance novel. And don't worry about it too much--just choose which genre you think comes the closest to describing it (just make sure you're familiar with the various genres in the market so you know how the terms are used). Your publisher might decide to market it differently (for instance, Jennie Hansen didn't think of her novel Shudder as suspense, but it was marketed that way). Good luck!

At 4/14/2010 11:52 PM, Blogger L.T. Elliot said...

I never knew that peeps did that in a vacuum! Oh, I've got to try that out!

Can't wait for your class, Stephanie. I'm sure you'll rock!

At 4/15/2010 9:17 AM, Blogger Heather B. Moore said...

Can't wait to see you, Stephanie!

At 4/15/2010 9:27 AM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

Thanks, LT and Heather! I can't believe the conference is next week!

At 4/15/2010 12:59 PM, Blogger Krista said...

Stephanie, I have a sleeper son. He is now almost 15. He will still sleep until 1 pm if we don't wake him. He will go back to sleep for scriptures if we don't call his name or flick the lights off and on or jump up and down and sing, "Eye of the Tiger" with someone air-guitaring the bass riff. And he's completely adorable.
My other son (12) is the one who runs backwards into poles. We call him Crash. He's up at dawn, and is the reason the rest of us get up soon after.
Your post cracked me up. Good luck at Storymakers!

At 4/15/2010 3:07 PM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

:) Thank you, Krista! "Crash"--that's hilarious. Air guitar . . . I love it! I'm thinking by the time my son's a teenager it's going to take cold water in the face to wake him up.

At 4/15/2010 4:42 PM, Blogger Tristi Pinkston said...

Stephanie, I love it that your daughter quotes Daphne DuMarier!! That's one of my favorite books/movies/obsessions of all time!

At 4/15/2010 8:44 PM, Blogger Jon Spell said...

Alas, I believe I have that song memorized as well. =)

... and I was just about to eat that chocolate mint on my pillow that I love so very very much...

Fruit Tipped Over: Madlibs must be a riot for your family. =)

At 4/16/2010 12:52 AM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

All I have is this box of one dozen starving crazed weasels.

We should really try MadLibs at FHE. That would be fun.


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